Capacities Expanded for Large Venues, Banquet Halls, Outdoor Gatherings
Here’s the latest. New Jersey’s outdoor gathering limits will climb significantly later this week, while entertainment venues and banquet halls will also be able to welcome more patrons. Outdoor venues that seat at least 2,500 will be able to fill to 30% capacity while indoor venues can max out at 20% starting at 6 a.m. Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy said at his Monday coronavirus press briefing. When Murphy loosened restrictions on March 1, the rule was venues of 5,000 or more could fill to 15% capacity outside and 10% indoors. In addition, general outdoor gathering limits will increase from 25 to 200 on Friday. Religious or political activities, as well as well as funerals, memorial services, and wedding ceremonies continue to have no caps on crowd sizes. Banquet halls will also benefit from the expanded limits. They will be able to host indoor celebrations and other private events at 35% of the room’s capacity or a maximum of 150 people. Previously, banquet halls and similar venues were only allowed to operate under those limits for weddings.
Assembly Passes Bills Supported by NJBIA
To help restaurants, bars and wedding venues. NJBIA supports a package of four bills passed by the Assembly on Thursday that would help restaurants, bars and wedding venues by addressing the often-arbitrary operating capacity limits and other pandemic-related restrictions imposed by the state that are making it difficult to stay in business. “Restaurants and other hospitality businesses struggling now under the current overly restrictive state mandates and are going out of business at an alarming rate,” NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz said. “NJBIA supports this legislative package because it supports this important industry with clearer and more sensible operating guidance.” Food and beverage establishments have been hard hit by shutdowns and operating restrictions imposed during the pandemic, Emigholz said. Economic data tracked by the nonprofit research organization Opportunity Insights based at Harvard University underscores the industry’s plight.
Restaurants May Have to Wait
FOR $29B in new federal aid. Restaurants may have to wait at least another month before getting access to the $28.5 billion in relief funds that were set aside for the industry by the American Rescue Plan, the landmark piece of legislation enacted on March 11. Officials of the Biden administration told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Wednesday that they cannot commit to an exact date when the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will begin distributing the funds in grants of up to $10 million.
Restaurants Question Survival
Despite $29B in federal relief. Despite some bailout money from Washington, New York City restaurants are foundering. Forty-six percent say that they will not survive without financial aid, such as rent support, and ongoing policies, like an eviction moratorium, according to a survey of 401 restaurants and bars by the New York City Hospitality Alliance. Most failed to turn a profit in 2020, and 75 percent of respondents saw sales decline by more than half. In January, half of the respondents saw a 90 percent or greater decline in average weekly sales compared to the same month last year. “The survival of our restaurants and bars is essential to the economic recovery of New York City, so the continued number and nature of these struggling small businesses is alarming,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.
SBA Defers EIDL Payments
Until 2022. The SBA also granted an additional 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments for existing disaster loans approved prior to 2020 that were in regular servicing status as of March 1, 2020. This is the third deferral extension for those loans. The SBA granted an automatic deferral of principal and interest payments through Dec. 31, 2020, and then extended the deferral period through March 31, 2020. The latest deferral means that borrowers don’t have to resume their regular payment schedule until the payment immediately preceding March 31, 2022. Borrowers may voluntarily continue to make payments during the deferment, as interest will continue to accrue on the outstanding loan balance during this period. The SBA has approved in excess of $200 billion in COVID-19 EIDL loans to more than 3.7 million small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The loans have a 30-year maturity with interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses, including sole proprietors and independent contractors, and 2.75% for not-for-profits.
6 Ways to Deliver
An innovative off-premises experience. There’s no question that off-premises dining has become an essential part of people’s lives. During the pandemic, it was a necessity. After the pandemic, it will live on as the ultimate convenience option, especially for busy families. But let’s be honest—for most casual dining brands, the off-premises dining experience just doesn’t live up to in-restaurant dining. (And how could it?) When your guests dine in, you have the ability to orchestrate exactly how they experience your brand through your ambiance, service, food quality, décor, personality—and so much more! It only makes sense that when your customers dine off-premises, much of what makes your restaurant brand so memorable gets lost on the way home. That’s why it’s time to think innovatively about how you’re going to keep your brand character—even off-premises. One great place to focus your innovations? Families. Families with young children drive 81% higher-than-average checks and account for 28 percent of restaurant traffic. That number gets even bigger when you include families with older kids and multi-generational families, as well as households comprising couples, roommates and/or friends. Giving all kinds of families a fun, memorable experience is just good business! And parents think so, too: The majority told us they’d be more likely to order from restaurants that offer family entertainment in the to-go bag.
Are We Still Turning Tables on Pay-at-the-Table?
One year later. Pay-at-the-table is becoming increasingly popular among restaurants of all levels – from quick-service and fast casual to fine dining, particularly as brands increase adoption, the technology and user experience continually improve. By delivering on customers’ expectations for this type of technology, operators are able to offer the best-possible customer experience (CX). Without a pay-at-the-table solution, a server places a check on a table, returns to pick up the credit card, walks to a stationary terminal to process the card, potentially waits behind other servers processing checks, returns to the table with the receipt and goes back to the terminal to process the tip. This takes quite a few steps – literally and figuratively – that slows down the restaurant’s ability to efficiently turntables and leaves guests looking over their shoulder for their waiter/waitress. A restaurant’s ability to deliver consistently engaging, memorable experiences that drive a connection to the brand at every touchpoint is more critical than ever. Customers expect restaurants to:
5 Surprising Changes Restaurants Made in 2020
That actually worked. When New York City’s shelter-in-place orders went into effect, Charlie Marshall immediately knew his menu had to change. Marshall owns the popular farm-to-table restaurant, The Marshal, and pivoted from fine dining to “farm-to-pizza,” a locally sourced take on a classic American comfort food. And it turned into a smash hit. Whether they’re standing behind a 750° brick pizza oven or a hot new business idea, restaurant and cafe owners are busy whipping up new dishes, products, and ways of running their businesses. In fact, Research from Square and Wakefield confirms the level of innovation in the air, with 85% of restaurant owners and managers saying they’ve completely reorganized their operations in 2020. And 92% of restaurant owners say they’re open to experimenting with their current menus.
Restaurants and Diners Need to Act Like We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet
With Covid-19. Last Saturday night, on the way to pick up some takeout, I noticed the pre-pandemic dining hotspot of Los Angeles’ West 3rd St felt alive again. All the telltale signs were back: Traffic was annoying, parking was crappy and sidewalks were blocked by people spilling out of restaurants waiting to be seated. Nature was healing. As I weaved between people on the sidewalk, I could imagine I was in a world where there wasn’t a global pandemic. And that was part of the problem. I peered into restaurants and noticed that people were packed into back-to-back booths with no partition between them. Sure, some of the tables were more spaced, but the places still looked above the 25 percent capacity. I had visions of a Super Bowl of yore, when big ol’ Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett recovered a fumble and trundled the length of the field for what looked like a rare moment of sporting glory for a man of his considerable stature, only to celebrate a few yards too early and have the Buffalo Bills’ Don Beebe knock the ball right out of his hands just shy of the goal line.
10% of All U.S. Restaurants Have Closed Permanently
Since the pandemic began. Of the 778,807 food establishments in operation since the onset of COVID-19, 79,438 have closed for good as of Monday, according to the report from Datassential. The figure does include restaurants that have opened during the pandemic. That includes restaurants at all levels of service: QSR (fast-food), fast-casual, midscale, casual and fine dining as well as food trucks. Food trucks have been affected the most of any segment, with 22.5 percent of the mobile restaurants permanently off the road. The quick-service industry – the biggest segment of the foodservice industry – has weathered the pandemic with the fewest closures, at 9.8 percent.
Did You Know?
Biden signs PPP loan extension into law; application deadline is now May 31. President Joe Biden signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law Tuesday afternoon after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill last Thursday, which extends the loan application deadline from March 31 to May 31. The law also gives the Small Business Administration an extra 30 days (through June 30) to process applications. “Today I am proud to sign the extension for the second round of PPP,” Biden said as he signed the bill into law on Tuesday. “It is a bipartisan accomplishment. Nearly 90,000 businesses are still in line and without someone signing this bill today there are hundreds of thousands of people that could lose their job.”
50% of restaurants plan to incentivize employees to get vaccinated. About half of restaurant owners plan to encourage and offer incentives to their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a survey by a company that provides data, research and analysis for the restaurant industry. The survey by BlackBox Intelligence also found that 39% of restaurants will encourage vaccinations, but not provide incentives, and 5% will neither encourage, nor require, vaccinations. The remaining 6% reported that the were undecided. About 53% of the restaurants planning to incentivize workers to be inoculated said they would provide paid time off to get the vaccine. One-third said they would provide a one-time cash payment to workers; 5% said they would pay for the cost of the vaccine; 10% said they would provide vaccinated employees with more time off; and the remainder said they would incentivize employees in “other ways.”
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
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Bielat Santore & Company teamed up with SCORE NJ, the states’ largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors to present a series of webinars on small business financing for the hospitality industry. The initial March 4th webinar was well-attended and well-received. The third webinar in the 3-part series will take place on Thursday, April 15th at 10:00am. The topic for this webinar is “Creating Financial Proformas.” Sign up now!